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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 4, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT

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interview with david rubenstein. our complete schedule at back in june, a former state department consultant talked about women in afghanistan. charlotte is now the program director for the american committee on foreign relations. priorities,bout the the challenges and the progress of afghan women after the fall of the taliban at the channel city club in santa barbara, california. this is one hour. [applause] ms. ponticelli: i don't think i've ever had such a warm and wonderful introduction. i want to thank my very good friend judy hill, who has been such a support, and an inspiration to me over so many years now, for the great work that i know that she does out
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here in this beautiful part of our country. i can't tell you how honored i am to be here, and i have another dream come true, to be back in santa barbara is almost like the arc of my life, having almost cut my political policy teeth during the reagan administration. i never dreamed i would see the reagan ranch. which was such a moving experience for me on saturday. the spirit of the man, i had seen the man as the head of state. but i felt ronald reagan is the man, the genuine person that he was. and remains for all of us who worked for him, who knew him, who loved him. here i am today, speaking in the reagan room.
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this beautiful place, named, of course, for another great american. someone who i loved as a kid, growing up. i also met wyatt earp in the white house once. and saw baby crockett -- davy crockett. [laughter] ms. ponticelli: it's good. this is a great chapter of my life. i'm pleased to be here to talk about one ongoing chapter of my life, in a way, like one of those american express commercials. do you know me? most people know me as the program director of the committee on foreign relations. but a huge part of my life, i call it now my pro bono work.
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it is the volunteer work, the ongoing work i do with and for the wonderful women of afghanistan, a cause i first became involved in in september of 2002. on september 9, 2002, i began a new job at the u.s. department of state heading at the international women's issues office and as you can imagine, the cause of the woman in afghanistan was issue and priority number one. at that point, i probably have trouble still finding afghanistan on the map. i guess a lot of americans would have had a hard time. i certainly had never, ever before -- although i have been to different countries and regions -- never met anyone from afghanistan.
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i even must confess that i don't think i have ever known of anybody from the islamic faith. it was completely new for me. so i was very involved with afghanistan. i traveled there several times when i was in the women's issues office at state. and to see the country, to meet those people -- and especially the women. and now here 13 years later, when i meet particularly with young afghan people in washington and i remember one meeting recently at the u.s. institute of peace in washington on afghanistan and we were going around the room.
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there was a young afghan delegation. so they get to me and i think what do i say? they have been so many different affiliations with a aniston -- with afghanistan. i said i have been involved in afghanistan for 13 years and this one man sat up and looked at me and said 13 years? and then i realized this young man -- this had been more than half of his life that i have been working on this wonderful cause. so, i think it is a very critical time and yet a very challenging time to be speaking about the cause of women in afghanistan and i should say the men who support them. that is often a misconception
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that it is such an awful, oppressive problem. time and time again, i have heard from different women, scholars, "i wouldn't be here if it weren't for my father." "i wouldn't be here if it weren't for my brother." "i wouldn't be here if it weren't for my husband." but really, they have done so much to inspire and inform my life. i was going to say -- it is a difficult time to be talking this issue. we all know that the headlines like to proclaim that it is all going downhill, the security is getting worse, that attacks on civilians have increased, that the opium trade
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continues, that corruption is rampant, and there is truth to an aspect of each and every one of these challenges. but it's humbling and yet a product opportunities for me to be here. because in spite of these problems, right now in june 2015, there are women in afghanistan and there are male supporters who know that their accomplishments could be regarded as fragile but they are determined to continue to work hard, to use any bit of help we can give them come and do the job they need to do. they don't really want anybody doing the job for them but they
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could use help. they are grateful for the help and every ounce of help and support we provide them -- believe me, the ripple effect is phenomenal. it's humbling because the woman in afghanistan -- i will speak about some of them i know personally. they are more courageous, hard-working, resilient than i could ever hope to be. they make me proud to be here talking about their cause because they are among the most courageous, hard-working, and resilient people i know. and when i stand here, i know that it looks like -- when i am here, i feel like i bring so
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many of them up on this podium with me. i can tell you about parliamentarians, ministers, women lawyers and judges, teachers, journalists, midwives, entrepreneurs, business women, and young women leading the way for a new generation. i wish i could tell you about some of the specific individuals. i have met women across the board from these areas but i could tell you about a governor habibi sarabi, the first woman governor in afghanistan. she was actually one of the vice
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presidential candidates in afghanistan's election a year ago. i could tell you about fatima, head of the afghan red crescent society. about the woman who heads up the society of women engineers in afghanistan. lisa owns and runs a construction company. nangahar is a province were recently we heard reports of isis. i remember reading lisa and she said i own my own construction company and my brother works for me. she is pretty amazing. and i could tell you about another woman, fauzia. she was elected to parliament in 2005, she has been reelected since then and she became the
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first speaker -- female speaker of parliament and afghan history. there is a great book about her called "the favorite daughter." she was the youngest of 19 daughters. 19. when she was born, her mother took her out to die in the sun. took her outside to die. shortly thereafter, felt she had to rescue her. she went out and rescued her and pledged that she would be her biggest supporter and fauzia would be a favorite daughter. her father was in politics. he was assassinated. her mother moved the family to kabul.
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when fauzia was getting ready for medical school, the taliban took over. she was prisoner in her own home and was denied opportunity to work in further education. after the fall of the taliban, it was determined she was going to leave her medical training and go into politics and become part of the solution and the future for her country. i have met her several times. she continues to do amazing work. she wrote this article, a very moving article just about a year ago and it was titled "a letter to my american sisters." i would really like to read part of that letter today because i can interpret so much on behalf of the wonderful women i am
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proud to call my afghan sisters, but i think when you hear it in their own words, they tell the stories the best. she talks about 12 long years in afghanistan. many americans who did the international community in this country was a failure if not a mistake. a majority of americans not come to believe most of the goals of the international community, especially in regards to helping the women of afghanistan, were not achieved. she talks about the constant barrage of negative media coverage of afghanistan. she said it has focused on the progress of the war but not the afghan people and has reinforced the negative perceptions. for those of us, she says, especially the women of afghanistan who are on the ground fighting for justice and
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equality as mothers, sisters, wives, teachers, politicians, and more importantly as citizens, there is a different reality that stands in contrast to what has been accomplished. -- has been published. she said it is true afghan is not a paradise for women and we face a very uncertain future with the upcoming withdrawal of international troops. but this is a part that struck me -- she says, that if the world could only see through our eyes, they might get a glimpse of the fact that afghan women have come a long way over the last decade. it has been a difficult journey marked by blood and violence, but we have made significant gains and achievements, which would not have been possible without the generous support of the international community,
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especially the american people. so i would like to point to some of those achievements that fauzia mentions in her letter to her american sisters. the benchmarks of progress. education. afghanistan has basically rebuilt an education system that had for all intents and purposes stopped functioning. in 2002, only 900,000 students in primary school and all of them were male. today, almost 9 million students are in school and 40% of them are girls. i mentioned to some of the political achievements just by virtue of women like fauzia, who had been leading the charge.
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25% of parliamentarians are women and in the last election, 20% of the provincial council members were female. young people -- i remember that delegation where the young man stood up and found it hard to believe i had been working on afghanistan half his life and i remember him saying how much now among the young people -- the young men are proud and happy to work alongside their female counterparts. the young generation really is the hope for afghanistan. i remember a woman on that same delegation. she said you have to understand we were born in war, we grew up
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during war, and we live in war. we are 60% of the voters. we are sacrificing our lives for a better future because their work leading up to the election put them at great risk. in the health sector, there have been significant gains. almost 60% of the afghan population now has some access to basic health care. this is a massive increase from just 8%. now, you have more than 60% of the population.
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thanks in great part to u.s. assistance, community health programs have helped to reduce the maternal mortality rate by 80%. the infant mortality rate by about 23%, meaning this is saving 80,000 newborn lives each year. there have been significant increases in life expectancy for both men and women. the young people and women were actively courted by all of the candidates in the field, particularly the top two. and i think we just need to think "yes, that election was not problem free." there were charges of fraud and mishandling of things but the election and the way it proceeded exceeded people's expectations and i think it's important to look at the fact
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that in that election, about 60% of eligible voters voted. when was the last time we had 60% of our eligible electorate voted in our election? in terms of the economy, women are starting businesses. they are in training programs. women comprise 60% of the country's agricultural workforce. perhaps all of these positive changes is the ability to dream. i remember my first trip to afghanistan and hearing young women say "you know, i was denied my basic human right to an education. i didn't have the ability to
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dream. we were prisoners, oppressed, we had no future." now, when you talk to little girls in afghanistan, they will tell you their dreams. "i want to be a pilot." "i want to be a doctor." the picture is certainly not rosy. of all the times i've spoken to audiences about the achievements and challenges of the women of afghanistan, this is one of the hardest moments. the reports are not good. the fears among the women is very
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clear. they are very heartfelt. here at a time in the u.s. when there is a great time of afghan fatigue and certainly donor fatigue. we live in a world where we want instant change, instant progress like an atm. we cannot forget the fourth transition needed and it is the generational transition, which holds great promise. still, as i mentioned ongoing problems, it is hard to believe despite all the efforts, more than 70% of afghans over the age of 15 cannot read or write. half of all afghan girls are
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still not in school. of those in school, if you stay -- few stay long enough to make it through secondary school. child marriage is still a scourge. so, how do we address this? what are the tools in our kit? i often get asked by audiences, don't we try to take solutions or a possible solution and we try to prescribe something that would never work in their culture. one of the best approaches we have used in afghanistan, the low cost, sustainable efforts, have been because of
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partnerships. my basic approach to a lot of issues is find a way to connect the dots and that means not just connecting education, health, connecting the issue dots, but connecting the dots that are the players. one of the most successful initiatives i have been involved in over 13 years is the u.s. afghan women's council. it was headquartered then and started out at the state department. it was launched by president george w. bush in january of 2003. it was devised by my colleagues then at the u.s. department of state to be able to respond to this amazing outpouring from the american people.
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business men and women, academics, democrats and republicans alike, we didn't care. we wanted a way to harness the energy and ideas and support of leaders across the board that said i see the situation of the women of afghanistan and i want to help. so we worked together, pulled together. the council is still very much alive and well in supporting its members projects. recently, we had a wonderful meeting in dallas, texas. it was hosted by laura bush at smu along with the first lady of afghanistan.
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what a fascinating meeting to be a part of. we had an honest discussion around the table. different members. one lady is a business lady. she runs a wonderful program. she came up with the idea after her first visit to afghanistan and said she wanted a business that afghan women can be part of. they will design the rugs, we will make it part of the deal to get the support. children have to go to school. the women will run the businesses, we will sell the rugs, all of the profit goes back to the project. it is a fabulous project.
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they are beautiful products. connie was just one person in dallas. there were some afghan women who were there. one woman does an amazing job running orphanages and mobile training clinics for women to teach them some basic skills so they can start their own business and be self-sufficient and provide for their families. so the council really was a partnership. afghan and u.s., public and private. it was a way to join forces, make strength in numbers, and to really respond. sometimes you hear criticism of the projects in afghanistan being our ideas. did anybody consult the women of afghanistan?
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everything the council has supported and been involved in has been very much in response to the priorities of afghan women themselves. that means education, political empowerment, job skills and health. those were the topics that came up again in dallas. one of the council members provided a description several years ago. she said initially, the work we took on was like digging at a mountain with a spoon. then the spoon became a shovel and the shovel became a bulldozer. joining together, you get stronger.
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i involved with an organization, they are afghan americans who went back. they started one of the three top telecommunications companies in afghanistan. the foundation has built 12 hospitals across afghanistan, focusing on maternal and child health. they help support the new build of the telecommunications center at the american university of afghanistan. they are supporting projects to dig wells, to provide water, sanitation, health projects. winter aid, just across the board.
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they do it quietly and with great determination. they recently joined forces with another foundation and went over to afghanistan and fitted 1700 children in afghanistan with hearing aids so they could hear for the first time. there are targeted projects that are having a ripple effect. another organization i'm involved with is a scholarship and leadership program involving a number of u.s. colleges and universities that provide full four-year scholarships for rising women leaders from afghanistan. one young woman just graduated from college.
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one young woman graduated from niata college. if you have a chance, catch the 8.5 minute documentary film she made called "look who's driving." she made it as a student, she and her sister. the film is amazing. quest to geteir their drivers licenses in afghanistan. which took great courage at the time. it is a story of their journey and as it young women -- and as young women, she talks poignantly for about two minutes of that 8.5 minutes about what her future looks like now and how she sees her future compared to what it looks like when she was growing up during the when she said we were
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like in cages. we were prisoners in cages and she starts crying. then she composes herself and says now i'm going to try to inspire other women to stand up and be drivers of change in afghanistan. she is one of the beneficiaries of that program. another young woman i met recently is going to russell sage college and graduates next year. before she has chance to go back to afghanistan, she started a project that is teleconferencing speech pathologists here to train speech pathologists in afghanistan which until recently had only one speech have followed just for the whole country. she saw the need. she's getting the academic background so she can implement this project. she is doing some of the
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kickstarting ways to get funding. dots andnnecting the trying to connector to the other efforts with hearing aids and hearing aid/speech path allergy. knows? maybe we can work out a win-win situation with that. build someustain and of the progress i've talked about? midst ofrly in the some of the challenges i have mentioned? of all, we have to remain steadfast in our commitment. we have told the afghan people but particularly the women of afghanistan over different administrations, different political parties, different secretaries of state, different presidents -- we will not abandon you. we are with you and will stay with you. we have to remember that commitment.
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i like to think we americans live up to our promises. that weo think, too, like to safeguard our investments and lord knows, we have made a phenomenal investment in the future of afghanistan through our blood and treasure. has -- thatift that is taken lightly. it's not something we gave that's underappreciated, believe me. by the people and the women in afghanistan. i remember my last visit to afghanistan. who wass a young woman a doctor and a deputy minister of health. the day i was leaving and i was with a delegation that had come from spain. i have been out there 2:00 are than the delegation. she came up to me and took me by my hand and looked at me in the face and said promise me you
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will not forget us. me, promise me you will not forget me, you won't forget us. i promised her that day. we as a country have made that promise. she met with our counsel in dallas, she said my plea to you would be please don't give up. please continue to support us. heartfelt and we have to live up to our commitment. second, we have to make sure that women remain part of the deal. whatever security assistance package, whatever negotiations new the tele-ban, whatever road, whatever new plan and i hope we come up with some plans, that might carry forward the
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hopes and aspirations for more jobs and economic opportunity through the mining and construction sector in particular. we've got to make sure that women are part of the deal. we have to focus on youth. think about it. 2/3 of the afghanistan population is under the age of 25. population, 30 million people, under the age of 25. the population is under the age of 15. we can all read the headlines. in thiswhat happens now age of violent extremism. the extremists are targeting the youth. in terms of our capacity building, in terms of our efforts to prevent violent extremism, if not stop it, we have to focus on the youth and
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we have to focus on their education and skills. let me talk about it. education is the tool that the insurgents fear the most. education is a basic human right. the impact is transformative and i know that soon i think you youssefsai stop by this part of the country. she is from pakistan but as she often points out, there are many of her in that part of the world. pakistan, afghanistan, and the region. i think often about something one of the ministers in ofhanistan said in terms focusing on education and focusing particularly connecting the dots education to job skills. this is a couple of years ago but i believe it still holds true. he was the minister for rural development and rehabilitation.
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he said few insertions are driven by ideology. many more are driven by unemployment. he said here is the key challenge -- how and where to create the 400,000-600,000 jobs needed each year in a country where2/3 of the population is age 25 or younger? said,view, the minister it is unemployment rather than insurgency that poses the greatest threat to achieving stable afghanistan. focus on technology. this is an area of hope. we hear about technology being used by the bad guys as well. that was one of the themes we talked about our conference in washington. it is amazing when you think that women in afghanistan 13 had nogo who really
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education, no literacy, no understanding of anything outside their home, that now amount ofbout an 80% women who have cell phones in afghanistan. that is an amazing opportunity. not as techyam talented as other people are. i do know about apps. i do know there is a lot of useful information, a lot of education, education for health, education for citizen awareness, peer to peer entrepreneurship, endeavors that can be achieved through cell phones. withnk this is a way even fewer boots on the ground that we can come up with some likeive solutions that are the young woman i mentioned it was working on the speed --
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speech path knowledge he project. look at ways you can use technology to train, to do a people to people. the security situation is the scariest. the corruption, as i said, is still a huge problem. the unity government of mr.ghani and dr. abdulla are working hard but they need to achieve a lot more in terms of tackling some of the big problems. think we need to look at the win-win. i think we are at a point in time where we think, ok what is the smart thing for us to do? just walk away again from afghanistan and not care about the progress that has been achieved? easy to use culture as an
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excuse when you look at afghanistan over 5000 years of history and how many times its culture has changed. ghani would be the first to tell you there are positive changes in the air. even in the midst of the challenges, there is a lot of positive things happening. arkn, thinking about the that brought me here today here in the ronald reagan room, i think about something ronald reagan once said. he said we cannot help everyone but everyone can help someone. it brought to mind a conversation i had with a group of women, my first visit to afghanistan. it was in a literacy center that was funded by the united states government. where just a plain room
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we all sat around a wood-burning stove. there were about 25 women their age is 18-68. some were widows. their husbands had been killed in the fighting. they had to provide for their families alone. this was soon after the fall of the taliban. down, it that as we set thought maybe i should prepare myself to hear a lot of really hard stories about the suffering they have endured, about their fears, about whatever. each were so happy that someone showed an interest in them. they could not stop talking about their hopes for the future. factwere so proud of the -- one of the older women said i can knit sweaters. i can sell my sweaters!
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one young woman said i know how to weave the carpets. right now, the men take our carpets and sell them to pakistan and we don't get any profits. i know how to do this. this is why some of our projects have been helpful. , offered inn partnership, some of those opportunities back to the women who deserve it. each one had a story to tell not about fears or victims but about possibilities and their hope for the future and their self-confidence that with enough work, we can do it. ie of my favorite expressions have learned from the women of afghanistan is -- no problem -- they love to say that. challenge.that as a muskalanest. i remember those women going
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around the room and one said, see? everyone here knows how to do something. that's the arc. we cannot help everyone but everyone can help someone and everyone here knows how to do something. questions and your support and your interest on behalf of my sisters from afghanistan. thank you. [applause] there is a microphone here in the middle of the room. c-span is recording our program today. first question --
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>> to say that that was inspiring is a gross understatement. a sincere this is question, as i said and listen to you and i hear there are two possibilities and potentials, i don't know what i can do. what can i do? is it money? tell me. ms. ponticelli: i think this has been the beauty and thanke you've had a question for it is the reason that the u.s.-afghan women's council was the genesis. what can i do? we used to make sure that the point was -- it's not just about writing a check although trust me and at this challenging time with afghanistan fatigue and donor fatigue, there are good organizations where you can make a strategic difference with a
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relatively small nation. -- donation. it's not just about writing a check and sometimes it is about offering ideas. just making contact -- let me go to my building that network and if youing the dots -- are a dentist and you want to iow about how you might -- was telling judy that store the other day -- talking to a group from kentucky and i got the same question. i said well, you know your talents, your ideas help. they can use anything. to send books to a school. if you want to know where a school is, i can give you the name of a school. it's using our network to say what is the need out there. i heard once somebody described the perfect definition of the
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vocation. i always thought of vocation as a religious thing. i heard it can be described as this -- the connection between one deepest -- one's deepest desires and the world greatest need. if your deepest desire is to help on the literacy front and help children have access to books and writing tablets or whatever, there is a way to do that. i think we connect, we target the need, and we do it. i want to show you this. i think this is one of the most effective brochures. thank you for the question, and hope i answered it. if anybody wants to help, i will give you my card. tos is from the initiative educate afghan women. way -- young afghan women helped design this brochure. educated women lead to lasting
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change. their education is the change that makes the difference. your participation is the difference that makes the change. this is the type of program. it does not go to overhead. it goes to the women to support them and help by their books and their student fees to fill in where the medical insurance doesn't. there are all kinds of needs. they are going back and they are leading the way for change in afghanistan. it's a great program. this be a great example, thank you. i'm wondering what is the influence of the taliban on the women? afghanistan,t into
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i happened to go to different talks about the country in the women had to wear the burqa's all the time and there were public amputations and even the women could not go to school. how much influence do they still have in suppressing that kind of activity? ms. ponticelli: obviously, when the taliban fell out of power, you had pockets in the provinces but for the main part, there was a return to some ability of freedom. headdressesat the or the burqas and wonder if that is a symbol of a pervasive russian. when you meet young afghan women now, they might wear scarves some not at all, some very modern dress. i was telling judy the other day
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that one of the first afghan in 2003-2004, she ran for president at one point. her and some other afghan women saying that i remember when i could wear miniskirts or the younger women would say my mother tells me how she used to wear miniskirts. the garb has changed. the burqa is used primarily in the rural areas. a lot of those kinds of restrictions are no more. under the taliban, girls could not go to school, period. some of the bravest women you will meet in afghanistan were those who ran underground schools during the tell about at the risk of their lives. one woman told me she became a deputy minister of the education
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ministry and she was one of those women who ran a school. she said we told the taliban and it was a religious school so the children would come. we had the koran there. when the tell about would knock on the door, the children would run out the door and put the koran back on the desk. she could have been -- there was one woman i met who became the first head of the afghan midwife association. remember her telling us -- how did you do things around the taliban? she said i had my son drive me around but i did not tell him what i was doing which was delivering babies and she delivered 2000 babies during the taliban regime. a lot of that has changed. i tried tovements as
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mention some of them today, education, health, life expectancy. life expectancy, the first afghan women i met were like 45. now they have gained 20 years for life expectancy. there has been tangible, real progress. , ther withdrawal international community's withdrawal leaves a vacuum, then we open the door for the bad guys to come back in. that's what they are afraid of. the peace and rest -- and reconciliation commission has kind of a token participation of women. they are very fearful of negotiations with the tell about. it's for a complicated. >> what is the presence of americans question mark are there still any troops there is advisers? >> yes, there are still troops there as advisers. -- the military
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advisers that are there are trying to continue the capacity building for the afghan security forces and the police. some women are involved in the police force. yes, training, advising, and looking atut we are a complete withdrawal in maybe 18 months from now. it's a very short window. i often think of a general i heard once who would talk about -- i have for this story several times so i don't know how real earlybut is very vivid -- on after the fall of the taliban and the was intervention and he was talking to a taliban representative and the taliban general -- you have all the watches but we have all the time. >> thank you.
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i thought i would highlight it and you made which was that a lot of young men are supporting women and having been part of the feminist movement in this country early on and i wrote a book about it, the mistake we made was not to include men in that. have am posing is would room full of mentors in here, men and women, i think that is a way we could connect electronically since many of us cannot get around that well anymore, is that right? [laughter] what i am proposing is maybe we could help by mentoring. menink we need to help the so instead of boots on the ground, we need boots in the air. [laughter] ms. ponticelli: i think boots in the air is a great -- what? hoots? boots! >> it's about cheering people
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on. ms. ponticelli: support and interest is wonderful. sothe way, i know there are many great colleges and universities in this part of the world. ways for your local college or university where you could connect as well. you have had michael smith, the former president of the american university of afghanistan. i think there is a great way to connect. i totally agree. afghan women themselves tell us -- thank you for raising that point -- they have told me for the 13 years i have been involved in this -- thanks for helping us educate our girls but we need to educate the boys, too. [applause] hand -- and thank you for training women but if we are
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really going to advance the cause of women's rights and equality and women's opportunity, we need to train the men. we get involved in this gender thing. i never use that word when it comes to afghanistan because it is a neutral term that does not translate well for them. men, mothers, fathers, families, they get that. and so do we. thank you. last time i checked, there were approximately 4 countries in the islamic world that required sharia in their constitution. afghanistan was one of those countries. ?s that still the case what is the prognosis for women in the future if that is brought to bear? ms. ponticelli: thank you for that. yes, afghan women were very
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active in the drafting of their constitution. that was one of the big challenging points they had to work out. they did feel, at least my recollection, it's been a while since i have looked again at the constitutional issue -- i think they are pretty proud of their constitution and they don't see a conflict between that particular clause and the equal rights for all citizens. they are working things out. the judicial process is one of their big challenges, the rule of law issue. they want to make their existing constitution work. we havet's not perfect, amendments to our own constitution. who knows? they may amended at some time. now -- mrs. right ghani has mentioned this and there is hope she will nudge her
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husband in the right direction thatey are trying to make first female appointment to the supreme court, to their supreme court. women are pretty much -- women judges are relegated to the family court right now. there is a lot of work that needs to be done on the rule of law and judicial system. thank you. [applause] thank you very much for a very inspirational talk. thank you so much. we have a gift for you. we want you to come back to santa barbara, california light. [applause] ms. ponticelli: that's so sweet, thank you. >> thank you.
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> the senate will debate the iran nuclear deal tuesday. 2 more senators have announced that they will vote on any resolution. colorado senator michael bennet says he will vote to support the iran agreement. , from maryland says he will vote against the iran deal that makes 38 senators in support of the deal and 56 opposed. 60 votes are needed for the senate to even vote in the resolution of disapproval. it three more senators announce their support, the senate will not hold a formal vote. there are six senators who have yet to announce which way they are leaning. only one of them is a republican, susan collins of maine. the undecided democrats are richard blumenthal, maria cantwell, joe manchin of west virginia and freshman michigan senator gary peters and oregon senator ron wyden.
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this labor day weekend, three days of politics, books, and american history. on a full day of special programs on c-span, here are a few of the features for labor day monday. beginning at 10 a clock a.m. eastern, a town hall event in seattle discusses the pros and cons of big data and civil liberties. later that evening at 6:30 p.m., a debate on how to reduce poverty between president obama and the president of the american enterprise institute arthur brooks. at 8:00, mark cuban and former presidents bill clinton and george w. bush on leadership skills. beginning saturday at 10:00 a.m. on c-span two book tv, we are live all day in the nation's capital for the 15th annual national book festival with programs featuring cokie roberts and joseph ellis and your opportunity to talk with pulitzer prize-winning historian david mccullough, astronaut buzz aldrin and others sunday at noon. a live three-hour conversation
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on in-depth with former second lady and american enterprise institute senior fellow lynne cheney who will take your phone calls and e-mails and tweets. afterwords,0 on catherine eden talks about how families from chicago to appalachia and the mississippi delta are surviving on no income. labor day monday, beginning at authorsm. eastern, share their thoughts on social and political issues. on american history tv on c-span three, saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. on lectures in history, boise state university professor lisa brady explains how do felicia and chemicals used during the korean and vietnam war created long-term damage to people and the environment. sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. on the america, crowded out, 1958 national education association film addressing overcrowded schools following
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the post-world war ii baby-boom. on labor day monday, our interview with billionaire philanthropist david rubenstein. get our complete schedule at last year, the fda announced plans to require restaurants to provide calorie and nutrition information. a republican and a democrat introduced legislation in april 2 exempt most non-restaurant establishments from the requirement which goes into effect on december 1. the hearings were chaired by the pennsylvania joe pitt. we will watch the hearing and you can call and had 2:40 p.m. eastern to join the discussion. mr. pitts: ladies and gentlemen, if you take your seats, we'll get started here. subcommittee will come to order.
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the chair will recognize himself for an opening statement. today's health subcommittee hearing will be examining the costly regulations regarding menu labeling proposed by the administration and scheduled to be implemented by december 1, 2015. the subject of our hearing, h.r. 2017, commonsense nutrition disclosure act is sponsored by our conference chair, cathy mcmorris rodgers and representative loretta sanchez. the legislation will help business owners, franchisees as well as consumers who want easy access to accurate nutrition information. covered establishments including pizza delivery businesses and grocery stores will be subject to a cumbersome, rigid and costly regulatory compliance process to avoid violations and
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possible criminal prosecution. h.r. 2017 seeks to improve and clarify the final rule promulgated by the food and drug administration implementing the menu labeling requirements of section 4205 of the affordable care act. the f.d.a. issued a nearly 400-page final rule establishing a one size fits all national nutrition disclosure requirement for restaurants and similar retail food establishments. the concern is that this final rule goes well beyond what was intended by the a.c.a. the obligations are imposed not only on chain restaurants, including delivery establishments, but also on any other chain retailer that sells nonpackaged food such as grocery stores, salad bars and males to go.
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-- meals to go. small businesses that are not chain restaurants, but are subject to the rule, will face a dramatic increase in regulatory compliance costs. consumers most assuredly will see higher food costs, perhaps fewer choices. some retailers, may find it advantageous to stop selling restaurant-food all together. instead of purchasing fresh sandwiches, consumers will buy prepackaged sandwiches because they will not have to comply. fixing this could fix thousands that otherwise would be burdened -- could benefit tens of thousands of small business owners that otherwise would be burdened with regulations that would be costly. and job creation. according to the office of management and budget, the proposal would be the third most
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burdensome regulation proposed in 2010. 148,536,183 hours to comply. the objective is to provide clarity, flexibility and certainty for these companies. while also ensuring consumers have access to the information, they need to make informed nutritional decisions. i look forward to the testimony today and i yield to representative morgan griffith who would like to introduce a witness. mr. griffith: i'm pleased to introduce israel o'quinn. israel has been a member of the virginia house of delegates, many decades ago and he has been there since 2011. he in his legislative capacity serves on the committee of commerce and labor which is akin to committee of commerce.
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he is a member of the energy and coal commission and he is here today as a citizen legislator should be not in his role as a member of the virginia house of delegates but food stores that is known as the food city supermarket chain and from the name, they do business in kentucky, virginia and tennessee. and he's here to talk about menu labeling as it impacts the grocery business. but most importantly i shouldn't leave out is that israel attended a fine institution of higher learning when he went to college. at emory and henry college which is my, monitor. very great that you allowed me to introduce my old friend to the members of the committee. mr. pitts: mr. green, five minutes.
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mr. green: i that i our -- i thank our witnesses for being today. today we are examining legislation that will roll back a policy that will give people access to ordering foods. congress embraces information that be included on packaged food. providing the public with information allows people to make informed choices about the food they eat. the affordable care act was enacted in 2010 to improve the health of american people and strengthen our health care system. the main substance of the landmark law expanded or access, affordable insurance and put to end the abuses and contained many provisions to promote prevention measures and general wellness. we know that consumers make better health decisions when they are empowered with information. section 4205 requires chain restaurants and food establishments that sell
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prepared food to include calorie information on menus and menu boards. menu labeling has become more important as people each eat out more. and it is a simple reform to ensure that consumers have access to the same information regardless of whether eating at home or outside their home. as we will hear from witnesses on how away from home foods are negatively impacted the diet and health of the american people without easily accessible information, it's difficult to make informed choices. the legislation we are considering today may weaken this important tool. when enacted, the provision built off of the thrust of more than dozen state and local policies. it could end the compromise between the interests of stakeholders. it would have significant financial and public health
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burdens on consumers, industry and taxpayer funded budgets. giving stores and other food establishments a blanket exemption to a uniform standard is unwarranted. it is unsupported by the wealth of research on the cost of compliance and real word evidence from chains and restaurants that have embraced the commonsense measures. it would create an uneven playing field. i appreciate the concerns with menu labeling requirements. while i do not support the legislation, i'm sympathetic to the concerns and the time and implementation and enforcement. due to lack of guidance, questions on the agency, i ask the f.d.a. to provide additional time for food establishments to comply. the law does not include a deadline. it should implement the period to review such guidance and
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comply with this important requirement. thank you for calling the hearing. and when considering the legislation, we must always keep the priority of keeping our broken health care system into a true health system in mind. i thank you and i yield back. mr. pitts: i recognize the chair of the full committee, mr. up ton, five minutes. mr. upton: thank you, mr. chairman. today we are going to discuss important bipartisan legislation that seeks to provide some balance to the recently proposed menu labeling guidelines. h.r. 2017. the bipartisan effort as always been spearheaded by cathy mrs. mcmorris rodgers, active member of our committee. this bill brings clarity and alleviate the unnecessary requirements that the rule has placed on businesses across the
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country. take for example my michigan-based company domino's, it has 34 million potential different menu combinations. and has nutrition information for your particular order and 91% of their orders are placed online. requiring in-store information for 34 million potential menu items would cost each store nearly $5 million and wouldn't address the problem of informing consumers. no doubt that the u.s. should have a policy for menu labeling. we need to take a pragmatic approach. the goal is ensuring customers have the information and in order to do that, we need to make sure companies can comply. the current situation fails to address the needs of consumers
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and places enormous burdens on businesses. as it stands, restaurants and similar retail food establishments have until december 1 of this year to comply with the final rule, yet there are still a number of outstanding questions and issues. complying with the final rule will take substantial time and resources and f.d.a. has failed to provide more clarity. businesses need know how to comply and to plan and put things in place and f.d.a.'s failure to provide clarity has made it impossible for those things to happen. we will hear from the stakeholders and i hope we can discuss solutions to the problem and i yield the balance of my time to cathy mrs. mcmorris rodgers. mrs. mcmorris rodgers: i thank the chairmen for their attention to this issue, and ms. loretta sanchez.
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our joint efforts to clarify these regulations and represent the needs of america's small business owners are critical. i thank chairman upton and the 40 bipartisan members who have agreed to co-sponsor. h.r. 2017 is simple. clarify the intent of this nearly 400-page regulation so businesses can comply with it and consumers can have access to helpful calorie information. my staff and i have met with stakeholders and other member offices on all sides of this issue more than 20 times and asked how we can improve this legislation. something that we have heard again and again is that the 50% revenue trigger of what defines a restaurant is not fair. i ask unanimous consent to insert into the record a letter from the national restaurant association to congress on april 28 that only discusses the 50% revenue exemption. mr. pitts: without objection.
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so ordered. mrs. mcmorris rodgers: these concerns have been heard and i intend to move them through committee markup. i hope we can discuss the merits of this important legislation beyond this one point. like many other regulations, good intentions don't always add up to practical policy. this regulation tries a cookie cutter approach to treat grocers and pizzerias like capital grille and outback steakhouse. i don't think this is workable or affordable. estimates say this regulation could cost american businesses more than $1 billion to comply and 500,000 hours of paperwork, one of the most expensive regulations ever. requiring domino's franchisees to post every potential topping combination, as the chairman already said, more than 34 million possible outcomes, when more than 90% of the orders take
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place over the phone or internet doesn't make sense. this is commonsense legislation which provides access to calorie information by clarifying not significantly altering this complicated regulation. we have been requesting comments from stakeholders since january and heard several on the revenue trigger, which we have agreed to address, and hope we can move on now to the step in the regular order of process. this bill is ready to move, mr. chairman. and i thank the chairman and yield back. mr. pitts: the chair recognizes the ranking member of the full committee, mr. pallone, five minutes for opening statement. mr. pallone: thank you, mr. chairman. i would ask unanimous consent to put in the record a letter from congresswoman delauro addressed to you and mr. green. mr. pitts: without objection. so ordered. mr. pallone: thank you.
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increasing access to nutrition information can play an important role in fighting our nation's battle against obesity and diet-related disease. obesity in this country is far too common affecting 78 million adults and 13 million children and it is a serious and costly health problem such as heart disease, stroke and type ii diabetes, some of the leading causes of preventable death. while there are many factors, we know that are overconsumption of calories is one of the primary causes and i have provided information to consumers. thanks to the labeling and education act of which i was a co-sponsor, this information has been available on packaged food items. it's not always been available to american families when eating out. this is a critical gap when you consider american families are eating out twice as often and spend half of their food dollars on food made outside of their
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home. the congress passed labeling requirements in 2010. under the law, restaurants and retail food establishments with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering the same menu items are required to put calorie information on their menus. and offer more detailed nutrition information upon request. the availability of this information will help make informed choices about the food they are purchasing for themselves or families. this is not a new idea. prior to the passage of labeling requirements, more than 20 states and localities had passed some type of menu labeling including california, new york city, and d.c. area in the montgomery county, maryland. these efforts and support from consumers, led the restaurant industry to work with congress to draft the menu labeling policy that would provide for consistent requirements and clear information to consumers.
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after much debate, f.d.a. implemented the menu labeling requirements in december of last year and this was a challenging issue and i want to thank f.d.a. for following the law while taking into consideration the concerns raised and the more than a thousand comments received. we will hear that there are areas of the final rule where additional guidance may be warranted such as what constitutes a menu and various parts of the store among others. i'm sympathetic to these concerns and agree that further clarification is needed particularly for establishments without prior labeling menu experiences. such as grocery stores or convenience stores. however, i do not believe legislative action is necessary. f.d.a. has minimized the requirements. they worked closely with industry to minimize concern. i have no reason to believe that
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the agency will not work with these stakeholders to address these concerns. f.d.a. is working on a guidance document to clarify some of the outstanding issues that we will hear about today. for these reasons i do not support h.r. 2017 and would instead support additional time to comply with the labeling rule. i look forward to hearing more about the legislation. i yield the rest of my time to ms. matsui. ms. matsui: i thank the member for yielding me time. i thank the witnesses for being here today. we agree that the rising rates of obesity constitute a health crisis and we agree that access in nutrition information is an important step in addressing the obesity epidemic. the affordable care act has taken great strides by requiring nutrition labeling at restaurants and other places where people purchase food.
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the f.d.a. has been working to implement this requirement in a reasonable way and provide guidance to stakeholders who have legitimate concerns about their ability to comply. additional time is warranted. i look forward to working with the f.d.a. and stakeholders to ensure that this provision is successfully implemented to benefit consumers without imposing overly burdensome or impractical requirements on our businesses. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses and working with my colleagues to address this issue going forward. i yield back the balance of my time. mr. pitts: that concludes the opening statements. as usual, any members' written opening statements will be made part of the record. and one u.c. request, i would like to submit the following document, a statement from the food and marketing institute.
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without objection, so ordered. we have one panel before us today and i'll introduce them in the order of their presentation. first mrs. hubbard, ceo of easy mart stores, on behalf of the national association of convenience stores. secondly mr. o'quinn that congressman griffith introduced. director of strategic initiatives, food city, on behalf of the food marketing institute. third, executive vice president, investor relations of domino's, on behalf of the american pizza community. next ms. karen rozkoff for duncan brands inc. and the director of nutrition policy center for science in the
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public interest. ms. margaret wooten. thank you each for coming today. you'll each be given five minutes to summarize your written testimony. your written testimony will be entered into the record. there is a series of lights on your desk. and when it hits red, ask that you run. i will have to run a tight gavel today. i will monitor my tv on the floor. we are scheduled to vote between 11:00 and 11:30 and get through the members' questions. ms. hubbard, you are recognized for your summary. ms. hubbard: chairman, ranking member, members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. i'm the c.e.o. of easy mart stores. it owns and operates nearly 300 convenience store in texas, oklahoma, arkansas, and louisiana, all of which offer foods subject to regulations.
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i'm testifying on behalf of the national association of convenience stores. although more than 60% of our members operate single stores, many of these single store owners do so under the name of major large businesses like exxon that are covered by the labeling requirements. the convenience store industry strongly supports h.r. 2017, the commonsense nutrition disclosure act, and the effort to provide consumers nutrition information. most of the food sold is prepackaged, as has been discussed, and already provides this information. if congress enacts h.r. 2017, consumers would receive more nutrition information and would receive it in a way that is more useful to them. the food operations is
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different. yet the f.d.a. final ruling was geared toward the chain restaurant model. many chain restaurants have the same food displayed on the same menu in all of their locations. that is not true for the convenience store industry. convenience stores, even those that are part of the same chain, sell different foods based upon the different locations and different market demands and even stores that do sell the same items may offer it in different ways. at easy mart, we have different foods in different locations which would require different menus. like a breakfast sandwich, they might have a different calorie count because the supplier that provides the components is different. easy mart deals with more than 50 food suppliers and it has proved difficult getting the nutrition information we need from them. we expect that some won't give us that information by the
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december 1 deadline and there isn't much we can do about it. nothing in the law requires them to give us the information we need. the responsibility is ours alone. the food we offer changes frequently. at any given time we may be testing 15, 20 different new products and some of them will become permanent fixtures and others may change and may be temporary. this adds to the complexities of complying with the rules. we want to provide our customers with useful information. and h.r. 2017 does not roll back the regulations but gives us the flexibility we need to do this. for example, the legislation would allow us to have one menu board in our locations rather than a scattering of confusing signs throughout the stores that repeat the same information, a basic wall of words. it would allow us more flexibility to display calories in ranges rather than calorie
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counts for all items, which may vary. the bill would give us more flexibility for foods we are testing in different locations. in addition, the bill would be very helpful in curbing the high punitive nature of the high enforcement provisions. it should not be a felony if a store doesn't prepare the same way as another store on the exact same day, if one of my clerks makes a mistake. and no mistake in this area should be serious enough to charge our store owners with a felony. we need more time to comply. once new regulations are issued. this is a complex regulatory regime and we must analyze our locations differently. we need time to work with our suppliers. the bottom line is that h.r. 2017 is good sensible legislation that will improve f.d.a.'s rules by helping businesses actually comply and that will mean more good useful information to consumers.
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i thank you for the opportunity to testify. and i look forward to answering any questions. mr. pitts: the chair thanks the gentlelady. and i recognize our next witness for an opening statement. mr. o'quinn: good morning, members. i'm director of strategic initiatives for food stores based in virginia. our company operates 105 food markets and an associate owned company and that is something we take pride in. we are members of the food marketing institute and the national grossers' association. we really appreciate the work that you are doing to consider the impact of the f.d.a.'s menu and labeling regulations on grocery stores, and the need for the nutrition disclosure act known as h.r. 2017. as grocers, we like to provide our customers with the products they want in the format they
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desire. more than 90% of the foods in our grocery store have not only the calorie information. they list fat, salt, and sugar content. many of the remaining items that we offer are sourced from within the store. if a fruit or vegetables gets ripe in the produce department, we bring it over to the deli department and cut it up and put it in the salad bar. many deli departments prepare food that is specific to a single store. throughout our stores and across our company, we have personnel that is focused on food safety. that includes implementation of the food safety modernization act, compliance with labeling and ingredient labeling, allergen labeling, bioterrorism and recordkeeping and proposed updates to the nutrition facts panel. we also have our own safety and quality standards that go beyond these laws.
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the last thing we want is someone to get sick from the food in our grocery stores. you might ask how is this related to what we are talking about today. these are all related to the supermarket industry and where we devote time and resources. they are regulations that are not applied to chain restaurants. when the f.d.a. takes a chain restaurant menu labeling law and stretches it out to grocery stores on top of the other laws that we comply with and abide with, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the glove simply doesn't fit. we are committed to aiding our customers and making healthy choices and i will highlight three of those things we are doing. we with other grocers have a healthy initiatives departments that make informed decisions about healthy eating, something we didn't have to do but it's the right thing to do. we invested significant resources in the scoring system, a system that gives a zero to 100 score tag so you can tell the nutritional value of any
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product. we are involved in a locally grown produce initiative. they were formerly tobacco farmers and are now growing the best tasting fruits and vegetables. over a 14-year span in this program, we have gone from purchasing $750,000 in product to nearly $6 million.
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the costs are ultimately passed on to the consumer, and consumers can't pay more for that return upon investments. our industry has asked a lot of questions and attended a lot of meetings with the fda and we have gone very few answers. we see this as a very good step in the right direction. we thank you for putting this bill in and we thank you very much for your time and attention. chair: thank you, and the chair recognizes mr. o'neill. -- ms. liddle. mr. liddle: i represent the
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pizza making businesses and i believe that you will find these establishments more than reasonable. pizza hut has published that they now have over 2 billion, so our point is you can't fit all iterations of a pizza on a traditional menu board iq can with burgers, for example. if you put ranges for a whole pie, that is up to 2000 calories. if you do it for a single slice, that is up to hundreds of calories. we want to do this precisely so that customers know exactly what they are eating. we want to put the information where our customers go, which is online. about half of our pizza orders and half of papa john's orders
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come from online. the rest of our customers who don't order online pick up the phone to order. this means that very few people walk into a store, look at a menu board, and make an order in that way. think about your ordering habits and figure out what you do when you order pizza. out of the 324 orders we witnessed at a pizza store in michigan, 91 were placed remotely. about 7% were placed in store and that is five out of 324 using the menu board to place an order. to us, it makes no sense to retrofit a menu board that the vast majority of customers don't even use. most people think of dominoes or papa john's, for example, as big businesses. that we are actually a
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collection of small business owners or franchisees. our average is just five stores per franchisee. this is the common model for pizza. while make the small local business people that live work and hire in your districts pay thousands of dollars a year for something that people don't even use? they define broadly. the original law defines the menu as a primary writing of the restaurant. i think primary means first and foremost and not all. we send advertising fliers and put posters up and they weren't intended as menus and they can't all be considered as primary. and this isn't unique to pete says. this spans across many restaurant types. the f.d.a. claims to havethe f.e recognized, but the definitions
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they laid out don't differentiate these properly. lastly, the fda regulations require that you have to certify at the corporate and individual store levels that you have listed all the correct calories in all the correct places and you could face criminal penalties should you do this wrong. and what about class-action lawsuits if a teenage pizza maker is a little heavy-handed with the cheese? we believe that a business should be required that it has made reasonable efforts to correctly depict calorie information. and inadvertently putting too many toppings on a pizza should not result in crippling fines or jail time. the job of calorie labeling won't be an easy one. people have a right to know what they are eating and we have been disclosing calorie information
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for 14 years. computer program and nutritional research and operational systems will need to be put in place. so we have asked for more time. but let me be clear, no way do we see a delay in the rules a solution. we must have a legislative fix. in closing, i cannot say it too many times, we are not seeking an exemption. we want to comply that provides the information to our customers in the clearest way and doesn't make small business pay for that in materials in what customers won't see or use. for all these important constituencies, chairman pitts and members of the subcommittee, thank you for listening to me and thank you representative mrs. mcmorris rodgers and sanchez for your help on this issue. chair: now we recognize ms. ras kopf for five minutes on the issues. ms. raskopf: i'm with dunkin' company, which includes dunkin'
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donuts and baskin robbins. both dunkin' donuts and baskin robins are essentially 100% franchised. at the end of 2014, baskin robbins franchisees own an average of one restaurant, dunkin' donuts' own about six. so they are small business people. dunkin' brands have proudly supported national uniform menu labeling for many years and we continue to believe a national standard for providing nutrition information on all restaurant-type foods is critical. over the past several years, dunkin' brands and many others in the restaurant industry have worked proactively to help reform what had previously been a complex, highly localized approach to menu labeling. before the federal solution,
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labeling laws were being passed on a state-by-state, city by city basis, and in some cases, counties were competing with cities to pass such laws. competing state and local laws are difficult and disruptive for businesses as well as lacking in consistency for customers. a national approach to labeling was an important and necessary step for our franchisees, our industry and most importantly for consumers. it's been long overdue and remains critically important. we acknowledge that today's food service industry is large and complex. however, though we continue to have some specific questions in regards to how to efficiently and effectively implement certain sections of the regulations, we appreciate f.d.a.'s commitment to working with stake holders. we believe f.d.a. generally followed the intent of the law and did so in a manner to largely minimize cost and burdens to the food service industry. while some may argue that
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there's expense and inefficiency in regards to implementation, after having complied with both individual state laws as well as completing much of the work to meet the year-end deadline, i can assure you, f.d.a. has worked to address most of the significant and potential costly issues to us. likewise, the new labeling regulation is intended to benefit both businesses and consumers by focusing on all establishments that serve restaurant-type food, not just a select few. for this reason, the regulations specifically include not only restaurant chains but also other food servicer retailers with 20 or more locations including convenience stores, grocery stores and others. h.r. 2017 includes a provision that imposes a percentage revenue threshold exempting grocery and convenience stores from having to label their restaurant-type food. we strongly disagree with this. the benefits of nutrition labeling are important, no
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matter the size of the menu or the percentage of sales from food. i hope congress will maintain the labeling regulation as it was written. grocery and convenience stores are increasingly competing against our restaurants. while we welcome the competition, we believe that restaurant-type food that grocery and convenience stores sell should be held to the same standards as the foods that traditional restaurants sell. this is about the type of food being sold, not the business format. a final point aide like to make -- final point i'd like to make is there have been many concerns expressed in regards to the extent of -- associated with determining nutritional information and the cost to communicate that information. to be clear, the regulation states that food service operators need only use reasonable means to calculate nutrition information. lab testing is not required. there are multiple ways to determine nutritional values. many of them at minimal costs. and very importantly, the regulation does not require menu
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boards. the regulation, how companies choose to communicate nutrition information is a business decision not a legislative one and from high tech to low tech, there are many communications options available to retailers. for these reasons, we do not support the language in h.r. 2017 that clarifies this point and to -- and to be clear we do not believe any additional legislation is necessary. all clarifying information can be handled through fda guidance. thank you for the opportunity to testify. the chair: the chair thanks the gentlelady and now recognizes wootan. -- dr. wootan. dr. wootan: i appreciate the opportunity to share the consumer view this morning.
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i agree with giving more time to comply with policy but we strongly oppose h.r. 2017. the commonsense nutrition disclosure act supports neither commonsense nor nutrition information disclosure. commonsense would be to side with the american people who are afflicted by high rates of obesity, over domino's which is hardly in need of congressional protection given its almost $2 billion in annual sales. at a time when 2/3 of americans are either overweight or obese, half of our food dollars are spent on away from home foods and studies clearly link eating out to obesity. commonsense would suggest that congress support americans' ability to make educated choices from the widest range of food service establishments provided under the law. i admire the gutsiness of some of my fellow witnesses. it's politically astute and and clever to focus on the fixes
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-- astute and clever to focus on the fixes h.r. 2017 would supposedly provide them while failing to mention the bill would exempt them from providing calorie information for their prepared foods. this bill most definitely would not make it easier for people to access meaningful, easily accessible nutrition information. that's why over 115 health experts and organizations oppose this bill. supermarkets state they're willing to give customers what they want but file mention that over 80% of americans want supermarkets to provide calorie information for their prepared foods like fried chicken, sandwiches and soups.
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and more than a quarter want calorie labeling for the hot dogs, pizza, nachos and other foods sold at convenience stores. how are people supposed to make informed choices if congress, supermarkets, convenience stores, pizza chains and movie theaters withhold nutrition information from them? supermarkets and convenience store exaggerations about the cost of menu labeling remind me of concerns in the early days when i was first working on menu labeling. but those did not turn out to be true. menu labeling software is inexpensive. many supermarkets already have dietitians on staff who can conduct calorie analysis. restaurants have shown that calorie labeling is affordable and feasible in the dozens of jurisdictions where it is already in effect. it's also disingenuous for supermarkets and convenience stores to promote themselves to customers as alternatives to restaurants while at the same time lobbies congress about how different they are. supermarket bakeries, buffets,
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salad bars, are like those in restaurants. and many of -- and many supermarkets now have tables where people can eat. 7-eleven, wa-wa, and sheets are among the 100 top food service establishments in the country and some of them belong to the national restaurant association. it is particularly hard to understand why pizza restaurants need a special exemption from listing calories on in-store menu boards. while other people -- while many people do order pizza by phone or computer, similarly, many do not enter fast food restaurants and order instead through the drive through. yet fast food restaurants aren't opposing having to provide their customers with nutrition information on each of their menus. likewise, pizza restaurants should not deny nutrition information to their in-store customers. pizza is a real problem in americans' diet. it's the fifth largest source of calories. it's the second biggest source of saturated fat.
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and it's the third biggest source of sodium. if any restaurants need comprehensive nutrition labeling, it's pizza restaurants. the variability of pizza, with its different crusts and toppings is no different than the variability of subway sandwiches with different breads and meats and toppings and spreads or ice cream sundaes or chipotle burritos. calories can and are being expressed as ranges or being provided for commonly ordered, standard builds. finally, to allow restaurants and food service establishments to label only far fraction of items is a recipe for confusion. it would be deceptive for consumers and make it difficult for them to order. i urge the committee to oppose h.r. 2017.
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your constituents' health depends on it. chair: the chair thanks the gentlelady. as the gentleman said, i overheard him, you're making me hungry. [laughter] chair: thank you for the testimony. we'll now begin questioning and i'll recognize myself, five minutes, for that purpose. to all the panelists let me start with this question. with the implementation date of december 1, that's six months away, that's still a lot of outstanding questions for the f.d.a. considering the short amount of time for compliance and the lack of guidance from f.d.a., would you all agree that there should at least be a delay for implementation, just yes or no? if we can go down the line. ms. hubbard? >> yes, sir. >> yes. >> yes. >> yes.
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we're willing to agree to a delay. chair: ms. hubbard. what are the biggest issues your businesses are facing and what do you anticipate the costs will be for implementing these regulations? ms. hubbard: i think the biggest challenge we face is the diversity in not just the industry but within my own chain, our own stores. we're 45 years old. we've acquired a lot of stores. they all have different products. the way they're laid out. if you will envision one store we walked in and the food service is on this end that offers fountain as a bundled piece with something you purchase.
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the fountain dispensers are on this end. coffee bar is somewhere else as is the hot dog and pastry case. the way we interpret this, we have to have all the postings of all the calorie count adjacent to those products and repeated. it would be duplicative throughout the store. it literally would be a wall of words for the consumer to try to interpret to find what the calorie count is and how we display that. if somebody were to move that piece, that displays the calorie count, is that now a felony? we're very concerned about the punitive damages of this and the practicality of trying to implement and have all these in different stores. we truly would have 300 different compliance plans. chair: mr. o'quinn, could you answer that question -- what are the biggest issues you're facing with this? mr. o'quinn: i think certainly some of the biggest issues come in how you label these products in the grocery store. if you take a salad bar, area -- salad bar area, for instance, we've -- looked at multiple ways to do that, such as putting it on the spoon itself. but should, perhaps my 10-year-old cousin comes through and move the spoons around, you're subject to f.d.a. punitive penalties. if you label everything up on the sneeze guard, someone comes through, cleans that, the
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alcohol based cleaner makes one fall off, how do you account for that? and then, you know, we looked at electronic boards and how often do things have to cycle through, how big do they have to be? i think the physical labeling of it is certainly one of the biggest channels that we're going to face and how you make that consistent and how you make it the same every single day. mr. pitts: ms. liddle, would you please respond? the biggest issues you're facing. ms. liddle: the biggest head scratcher for us is why we would put unclear range information on a menu board for those very few people who look at a menu board. we think a better solution for the few people who walk into a store would be to put a comprehensive booklet perhaps on the counter top, or maybe even an ipad. but to put ranges on a static menu board that consumers, that won't help consumers to make a good decision seems to not make sense to us. so that's the one issue. and then secondly, even though
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we are a big company with revenues, as ms. wootan pointed out, we are a conglomeration of small business people. half of our guys only own one store. so we're going to make them pay for something that people are not looking at that -- that to us is just beyond the challenges, it makes no sense at all. chair: ms. hubbard you said you would support a delay. if congress or f.d.a. should act to delay compliance for a year, does that solve the problem or would we simply be back here a year from now hearing testimony debating regs again? shouldn't we just put h.r. 2017 on a fast track to the white
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house? ms. hubbard: i absolutely do not think a delay solves our problem. we still have the issues just as i said on how do we communicate this to the consumers. if the intent is to provide consumers with useful information, make choices, don't we need to do that in some concise way they can actually find it? i think we've all walked into, maybe a quick serve restaurant and been overwhelmed by the menu board. can you now imagine that 50 times worse with the configurations of all the sodas and even within the advertising on the store? a delay does not solve this, no, sir. chair: my time has expired. i'll have to send questions to you in writing. at this time, i recognize the ranking member, mr. green, for five minutes of questions. mr. green: i want to remind the panel, the affordable care passed in 2010, here we are five years later and still have a problem with obesity in our country. and some of the suggestions in here, we're not going to stop people from eating what they want to. i'm going to go to domino's or
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dunkin' or get enchiladas in texas at one of our convenience stores but the bottom line is we want people who are concerned their obesity, their children's obesity, their parent's obesity and it ultimately end in diabetes. that's why it was part of the affordable care act. i would like to see what we could do to be workable but again, you're right, i've been in a lot of convenience stores but we do have some folks who are complying with it and -- but we still need to make sure consumers have that information. and maybe we need to present it in a better way. i don't know if a booklet on the counter, fast food stores are meant to be fast food. nobody is going to leaf through a booklet while waiting for their hamburger. but ms. raskopf, i want to thank dunkin' donuts for the work on the issue. it's critical for the industry and also for consumers to ensure that the presentation of calorie information is easily understood and regardless of where they live or where they dine.
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how much the discussion on this issue has been focused on types of restaurant, retail restaurant, food restaurants, should be covered by these menu labeling requirements. however it seems to me our focus should be more on types of food that should be covered especially on consumer demand for ready to eat and prepared food continues to grow. in your testimony you note the similarities between supermarkets an restaurants. we've heard from supermarkets that the cost of compliance would be up to $1 billion. that is in initial costs but i've not heard that concern from restaurants. ms. raskopf, can you explain what the cost of compliance would be for the dunkin' brands restaurants?
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ms. raskopf: yes, sir, we spent the last year looking at this to ensure we were able to comply with the -- with this by the end of the year. we too have a complex business. if you look at all the different ways you can order coffee, a thousand different way, -- 15,000 different ways, sandwiches, 80,000 different ways, and ice cream sundaes, 80,000 different ways. this is complex but we have been able to figure out a way to do it with the menu. the cost is going to be baskin robbins shops, it's about $400 per restaurant. for dunkin' donuts, about a third of our dunkin' donuts shops will have digital menu boards and the cost for them will be to label the drive-through boards the cost will be $600 or $700. if they don't have a digital menu board it's $1,200. it doesn't require menu boards. there's a multitude of ways to label for nutritional value. mr. green: dr. wootan, there's been a lot of talk about the definition of restaurants.
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the intent of the law is not to confine the scope to restaurants or other establishments primarily engaged in the sale of food but rather to apply broadly to entities that sell food to consumers. this was based largely on the trend of american families spending food dollars on items prepared outside the home. that's been going on for a couple of decades now, not only my children but my grandchildren. dr. wootan, as someone involved in the drafting of the original legislation is it clear that the law was intended to broadly cover restaurant-type food? ms. wootan: absolutely. when the law was written it included not only restaurant bus also other food service establishments and that was meant to cover the broad range of food service establishments
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that provide prepared foods. in fact, i remember this supermarket industry trying to get an amendment to strike that part of the law, make it clear that they were excluded and they were not successful in that effort. they knew they would be included, they should have been preparing for this and getting ready as the restaurant industry has been. mr. green: in a consumer per -- from a consumer perspective, can you discuss what you think the impact from having certain food establishments exempted? ms. wootan: not having nutrition information in supermarkets and convenience stores will limit people's access to information. they are increasingly competing with restaurants and people are stopping at the grocery store and buying fried chick on meat loaf with side dishes as they do at restaurants system of more -- chicken or meatloaf with side
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dishes as they do at restaurants system of more and more, people are turning to supermarkets for prepared foods like they do for carry out from restaurants. and at pizza restaurants, while many people order over the phone, those people that do walk into the restaurant want to have nutrition information. you need to look at this from the consumer perspective. from where the consumer is ordering, that matters. where they need the information. the law does not require a pizza chain to put up a menu board if they don't think enough people are going into the restaurant that they feel they need to have a menu board, they don't have to have one but if they think enough people are coming in that they're putting up a menu board and listing pizzas and prices then next to that price they also need to post the calories. chair: the chair thanks the gentleman, and now the gentleman from illinois, mr. shimkus, five minutes for questions. mr. shimkus: i was almost going to sneak out from the hearing. i understand there's some people who want to see this information. and i think if you did national polling, people say sure i'd like to have it on. i don't think i've ever in my life read a menu, i don't think i've ever looked for calorie numbers.
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on anything i've consumed. and it's obvious that i am in the majority -- and i bet i'm in the majority of americans, so -- i -- i am just rowing that out there. i -- i -- i really struggle with this! this is the perfect example of a nanny state, of a national government telling individual citizens and saying what is best for them and directing and pushing private sector individuals to -- to push people to consume things that they -- that they feel that it is, and it is unfortunate, but we are here. and so we have some issues to address. and i was here when we passed the health care law. all we passed was the senate
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version of a bill. we -- we -- obamacare that passed, the health care law, was a senate bill. that was a senate bill that we passed on the floor without any additional debate or oversight for a year and a half later. so the -- i want to go to ms. hubbard. ok, so here is an example -- i have sons whom i love very much. so they go and they get a drink at one of the convenience stores, they have personally titled a scour-ade. now i'm not sure what's in this thing. [laughter] [laughter]


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